Is Downsizing the Right Option for You?

As the number of seniors across North America increases, many older adults are realizing they may not be able to stay in their own homes, or “age in place.”

Health concerns figure prominently-a bitter reality for older boomers who didn’t believe they would ever have difficulty climbing stairs or navigating an older home. The result is that many are considering downsizing. But they still plan to age in place in one sense: Most would prefer to stay in their own neighbourhoods with all the familiar comforts of home.

The numbers are big. By 2031, more than 9 million seniors across Canada will have reached age 65 – some 20 to 25% of the population. And this will have an impact on everything from healthcare services and employment to housing.

Especially housing. Across North America, household debt has been growing, particularly in the age group of over 55ers; many seniors may have to-rather than choose to-downsize.

Is downsizing for you?

For those now considering the pros and cons of downsizing, here are some questions you need to ask yourself and your family:

Do I (and/or my spouse) need to downsize for health or financial reasons?

Is it likely that one of us soon won’t be able to drive?

Am I hoping to stay near or in my current neighbourhood, or move closer to family?

What to do now

You may have difficulty finding what you need in your neighbourhood; in most areas, developers have been slow to catch up.

But if downsizing is on your horizon, your first connection should be a good real estate agent who has expertise working with senior buyers. It’s also advantageous if your agent has a network of contacts such as lawyers, mortgage professionals, and organizing professionals to help with disposal of your possessions, and staging companies to prepare your home for sale.